How Kironde fled home to become new Budhagali
Before his enthronement as the oracle of Budhagali Falls, 32-year-old Hassan Kironde was an ordinary businessman, dealing in agricultural produce, poultry and goats. But that was until the spirits beckoned.
About a week ago, Kironde’s wife placed water outside for her husband to bathe, however, two hours later, he was nowhere to be seen.
Instead, she would later find out, he had been allegedly singled out by the spirits to replace Dada Nabamba Budhagali who died on October 26 and was buried on November 4.
Mr Hakim Menha, Kironde’s brother, on Monday said his sister-in-law called him saying her husband had disappeared.
Mr Menha added that a week later, residents found Kironde squatting on a rock at Budhagali Falls. They arrested and took him to police who instead said Kironde was possessed.
He was then taken to a traditional healer where he spent two nights before disappearing mysteriously on the third night and was later seen by fishermen early Sunday morning.
It is then that his clan mates said Kironde had been singled out by the spirits as the new Budhagali.
Kironde, who was on Monday found seated in a tent surrounded by regents, said the spirits are demanding four cows, four goats, four chicken and two sheep, before he is installed.
He added that after fulfilling the ritual, he will hold a spear aloft and point to a spot where his new shrine should be built.
Dhadha Nabamba Budhagali succumbed to diabetes and high blood pressure at Nile Hospital in Jinja District.
He was buried at night by sanctified spiritualists who performed rituals after eight days of mourning.
His mother, Ms Scovia Namukoya, said they heard on a local radio station that Kironde was seen squatting atop a rock at Budhagali Falls following his disappearance.
“I only wish him a good life,” Ms Namukoya said commenting on her son’s enthronement.
Kironde, the first born in a family of seven, hails from Kitayundwa Village, Kitayundwa Parish, Kidera Sub-county in Buyende District.
He is said to have attended Kitayundwa Primary School in Buyende District.
However, due to lack of money, he did not continue with studies and started selling chicken and goats within the community. He is married with two children.
Identification of a successor to the medium spirit of Budhagali has for some years been shrouded in mystery. Way back in the 1970s it was believed that the late Nabamba Budhagali who was the 39th incarnation of the river spirit had been identified as the anointed after the spirits armed him with power to float and ride a BSA motorcycle across the falls.
In the late 1990s at the height of a fight between the Nabamba Budhagali and another healer, who claimed superiority in all matters related to the river and all spirits, the late Nabamba Budhagali invited all and sundry to witness him floating on the water to show his superiority
Traditionalists who were involved in the process of identification of a successor to Budhagali announced that the anointed person would arrive floating on the river.
The Busoga Kingdom spokesperson, Mr Andrew Ntange, said it is the spirits that appoints the Budhagali and send him into the water unnoticed.
Who is Kirunda?
Kirunda was born in July 1989 to Mzee Zubairi Mugada, 61, and Florence Nanangwe Nambi Kasooone, 51. According to his parents, his childhood was characterised by peculiar behaviour, including vanishing from home for several days.
“We would search and later find him in jungles. And he also would not know how he got there,” the father told Saturday Vision on Thursday. Magada added that at times Kirunda would be seated alone and drift into deep meditation and half slumber for almost half a day.
“When he grew up, he would tell me how he would see beasts, wildfires and other celestial images. To waive them off, he became Born-again, but the images did not go away,” his mother, Nambi, said. He dropped out of school in Primary Six and later wedded Nakisekka, a fellow Mulokole.
After realising that the images ‘visiting him’ had cultural interpretations, he abandoned Christianity and constructed shrines (amasabo) for the spirits to settle. Emma Segujja Kabenge, the mayor of Bukungu town council, said Kirunda’s elevation is not surprising.
However, Kirunda’s wife, Nakisekka, is worried about her future and their six children. She was told that her husband has assumed another role and would never come back home.
Wilson Koloni Masooma, a cultural journalist from Wankole in Kamuli district, likened Kirunda’s elevation from a local traditional healer in a shrine to the rank of Budhagali, to the promotion of an army officer from the rank of sergeant to field marshal. “He is no longer a normal human being.
He has to surrender the old family and the spirits shall select a Muswezi wife who suits his status,” Masooma said. Mzee Zubairi Magada, Kirunda’s father, is also worried that his daughter-in-law will lose interest and abandon his grandchildren.
Nakisekka’s plight comes at a time when the nation is observing the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence (GBV). Diana Kagere, the project coordinator of the Centre for Domestic Violence (CEDOVIP), condemned the development, saying it is a form of gender-based violence against Nakisekka and the innocent children.